Tag Archives: Lesley Thomson

Review of KINDLE Ebook The Dog Walker – Book 5 of The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson

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I was delighted to see this one on Kindle as I had wanted to attend the book launch, but simply been too ill. Now that I have got ahead with my Netgalley arcs, I could give sufficient time to properly savour this book as I love Thomson’s writing – see my review of The House With No Rooms.

January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage and disappears. Twenty-nine years later, Helen’s body has never been found. Her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago. But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thomson’s atmospheric writing this time around has taken us to another obscure corner of London – she seems to specialise in those – where a crime was committed that shatters one family and blights the lives of others, including the husband of the victim. With two timelines running – one set around the time of the murder and afterwards as the consequences begin to stack up, while the other one is set here and now centred on the investigative efforts of Stella and Jack.

While there is not much in the way of gore in Thomson’s work, that doesn’t mean it is a particularly cosy read. Murder is not treated as an interesting puzzle here, but an act that has cut short a life and shattered the lives of others caught up in the investigation. Thomson writes particularly well from the pov of children who are involved, trying to make sense of what they see and hear. The sense of damage caused is reinforced by Jack’s own experiences as a child, which means he often imagines he is talking to his long-dead mother and goes on long, nocturnal walks as he has problems sleeping.

That said, this isn’t overall a gloomy read, either. While Thomson refuses to treat the crime with levity, Stella’s relationship with her mother, Suzie, is often amusing and her efforts to control Stanley, the little poodle she has acquired, are particularly funny if you have ever owned a dog. While Stanley is evidently fond of her, she clearly isn’t someone who is a natural around animals.

But for me, the reason why this is a standout read, is that in common with the rest of the series, the investigation into the crime slowly unravels. There are no speedy shortcuts. Between them, Stella and Jack piece together snippets of information to help discover who was doing what when the crime was committed. Some of those snippets prove to be wrong, or lead them astray – some we know from the start cannot be right, thanks to the flashbacks which give us, the reader, insights into aspects of the crime and its impact on the bystanders that Stella and Jack cannot have. Thomson’s thorough, precise approach means this book is a joy. In attempting to find out who killed Helen, Stella and Jack need to talk to all the residents in the row of cottages running alongside the towpath – in getting to meet all the potential suspects and witnesses, we also are introduced to a cast of characters who bounce off the page with their vividness.

One of the bonuses in having read the previous books – though it isn’t necessary to do so in order to enjoy The Dog Walker – is that we also have the pleasure of meeting up again with the likes of Suzie, Stella’s mother, and Lucie May, journalist and former lover of Terry Darnell, Stella’s father. I particularly enjoyed the role that Lucie played in this story and how it gave us a further insight into her character.

If you enjoy reading books more about the why than the gory deed itself – if you enjoy watching characters’ motivations and secrets unpeeled, then track this one down. While there are many cold case mysteries out there – books of this quality don’t come along all that often.

10/10

Sunday Post – 18th June 2017

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

Last Sunday was once again all about the garden. I’m very carefully not saying anything about the weather except that it isn’t raining and it isn’t cold, as last time I bragged about the marvellous sunshine we were having on my Sunday Post, we had gale-force winds and torrential rain for the next five days.

It has been a very busy week as my sister has finally arrived from France and is busy moving into a flat just up the road. I have been helping her buy furniture and sort out where important things like the best supermarket, the local branch of her bank, and furniture stores are. Once she has settled in, I’m really looking forward to showing her all the lovely walks and beauty spots around here. I still cannot quite believe she will only be living five minutes away from me.

On Thursday, Tim took his first external exam. We don’t know whether he has passed it or not, but he did brilliantly – remaining so calm throughout and answering all questions. I’m so proud of how hard he has worked to get where he is.

As you will see below, I haven’t got much reading done this week as my sister was staying with us for the first five days, only moving into her flat on Friday. We had a lot of catching up to do…

This week I have read:

The Dog Walker – Book 5 of the Detective’s Daughter series by Lesley Thomson
January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage and disappears. Twenty-nine years later, Helen’s body has never been found. Her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago. But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. One of the reasons why this is the only book I’ve read this week, is that The Dog Walker – with the steady drip feeding of clues, potential suspects and witnesses – deserves to be read slowly, so I took my time and savoured it. I will be reviewing it in due course.

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 11th June 2017

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of River of Teeth – Book 1 of the River of Teeth novella series by Sarah Gailey

Teaser Tuesday featuring A Peace Divided – Book 2 of the Peacekeeper series by Tanya Huff

Review of The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

Review of The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Friday Face-off – My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself featuring Soul Music – Book 16 of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Events – What to look forward to in Summer 2017http://earthianhivemind.net/2017/06/15/events-look-forward-summer-2017/ A very useful mini-roundup of some major events for SFF book lovers in particular – is anyone going to these?

Lessons Learned from John Kaag: Re-route, Re-boothttps://jeanleesworld.com/2017/06/15/lessons-learned-from-john-kaag-re-route-re-root/ Another beautiful, profound article from this talented writer on negotiating family life…

#WhenDreamsComeTrue with Sarah Hardy Publicist at Bloodhound Books https://mychestnutreadingtree.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/whendreamscometrue-with-sarah-hardy-publicist-at-bloodhound-books-sarahhardy681-bloodhoundbook/ A lovely article about how a woman is in the process of achieving her dream job

The Leaning Tower of Pisahttps://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2017/06/03/the-leaning-tower-of-pisa/ I love this photo…

Please Do Not Support my Patreonhttp://writerunboxed.com/2017/06/17/please-do-not-support-my-patreon/ The hilarious Bill Ferris strikes again on yet another how-not-to article for aspiring writers and bloggers…

Thank you for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Teaser Tuesday – 6th June, 2017

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

The Dog Walker – Book 5 of The Detective’s Daughter series by Lesley Thomson
30% Dad wasn’t a murderer!’. Suzie’s disparagements of Terry hadn’t lessened with his death, but she’d never gone this far. ‘He was a detective.’
‘Murderers and detectives are two sides of a coin,’ Suzie said sagely.
Stella felt, as she often did around her mum, overwhelmed by a rolling fog.

BLURB: January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage and disappears.
Twenty-nine years later, Helen’s body has never been found. Her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago. But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold.

About a third of the into this cold case murder mystery, once more I’m struck by the sheer class of Thomson’s writing. I love this atmospheric, quirky read with the dual timeline, giving us a present-day insight into Stella and Jack’s lives and the events that led to Helen’s disappearance. This is one I’m both trying to spin out because of the sheer reading pleasure – while wanting to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next…

Top Ten Unique Reads…

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Once again those fine folks at The Broke and Bookish came up with a Top Ten Tuesday list I found irresistible, so I put my thinking cap on and came up with these – hopefully you’ll forgive the fact that it isn’t Tuesday…

Snowflake by Paul Gallico
A delightful story of the life of Snowflake, who was “all stars and arrows, squares and triangles of ice and light”. Through Snowflake’s special role in the pattern of creation and life, Paul Gallico has given us a simple allegory on the meaning of life, its oneness and ultimate safety.
A teacher read this one to us when I was in the equivalent of today’s Year Six and I was enchanted. I tracked down a lot more of Paul Gallico’s reads – and to be honest, many of them are unlike anything I’ve ever read, before or since. But they certainly fired up my taste for something different…

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmares.
We were on a caravan holiday in France and I’d scooped this one off the shelves to take with us. I read it one heavy, hot summer afternoon while nibbling on chocolate – suddenly very glad for blazing sunshine and comforting presence of family. And as soon as I got to the end, I started reading it all over again, wanting more of that alluring prose and dark ideas.

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan
Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over. And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.
There is no one whose imagination works in quite the same way as Tricia Sullivan – and this amazing offering is certainly unique. I loved this quirky story and the directions in which it went, while following the fortunes of all the remarkable characters who seem perfectly reasonable – until you realise the prism through which you are looking at them has refracted into something different…

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it’s on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out – but there’s more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings and into the dark heart of the Jorgmund Company itself.
Another extraordinary tale that swept me up, held me rapt and then – finally – released me with a doozy of a twist ending I certainly didn’t see coming. This roller-coaster read snaps off the page with memorable lines and exuberant characters – see my review here.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment? Rosemary doesn’t talk very much, and about certain things she’s silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it’s been ten years since she last saw her beloved older brother, Lowell. Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can’t go forward without going back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.
This is a remarkable book – more so as it is based on a true event. And as we follow Rosemary when she goes on a quest to try and track down what happened to Fern, we discover a heartbreaking story of loss and abandonment that started with the best of intentions and ended up blighting the young lives of all the siblings in the family – see my review here.

Touchstone – Book 1 of the Glass Thorns series by Melanie Rawn
Cayden Silversun is part Elven, part Fae, part human Wizard—and all rebel. His aristocratic mother would have him follow his father to the Royal Court, to make a high society living off the scraps of kings. But Cade lives and breathes for the theater, and he’s good—very, very good. With his company, he’ll enter the highest reaches of society and power, as an honored artist—or die trying.
This remarkable series is a tour de force. I haven’t read anything quite like it and I don’t think I ever will… Cayden is a remarkable, spiky character cursed with genius and flashes of prescience. No one else has ever managed to depict the cost of this type of talent so thoroughly as Rawn in this magnificent series, which deserves to be a lot better known – see my review here.

Among Others by Jo Walton
When Mori discovers that her mother is using black magic, she decides to intervene. The ensuing clash between mother and daughter leaves Mori bereft of her twin sister, crippled for life and unable to return to the Welsh Valleys that were her own kingdom. Mori finds solace and strength in her beloved books. But her mother is bent on revenge, and nothing and no one – not even Tolkien – can save her from the final reckoning.
The writing is extraordinary in the pin-sharp description of the everyday, alongside the remarkable and Mori’s character is so compellingly realistic and nuanced, I’m undecided whether there is a large chunk of autobiographical detail wrapped up in this book. And I don’t really care – other than to fervently hope, for her sake, there isn’t too much that is borrowed from Walton’s own life. Memorable and remarkable art invariably is a fusion of imagination and reality – and this is both a memorable and remarkable book. See my review here.

A Kind of Vanishing by Lesley Thomson
Summer 1968: the day Senator Robert Kennedy is shot, two nine-year-old girls are playing hide and seek in the ruins of a deserted village. When it is Eleanor’s turn to hide, Alice disappears.
Thomson immediately plunges into the world of young girls, depicting first Eleanor’s rich interior landscape and then allowing us to access to Alice’s carefully modulated world, where her doting parents watch her every move. Thomson paints an exquisite picture of each girls’ fragilities, their aspirations and pin-sharp awareness of adult expectations. She beautifully inhabits the terrible, wonderful world of childhood – and the girls’ growing antipathy towards each other as they are forced to play together – until that disastrous game of hide and seek. This thriller/mystery is like nothing else I’ve read – see my review here.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
This is the first of the acclaimed Man Booker prizewinning books about Henry VIII’s bully boy Thomas Cromwell, who oversaw the dissolution of the monasteries. Mantel instantly had me off-balance with her present tense, third person deep POV when we first meet Cromwell being beaten by Walter, his drunken father, and he is lying on the ground trying to summon up the will to move. So Mantel quickly gains our sympathy for her protagonist – but rather than chart his adventures in Europe where he spent time as a mercenary and scholar, we then jump to when he is in Cardinal Wolsey’s employ and establishing himself as a man of substance.
The biggest problem for Mantel in choosing this period of history, is that many of us know the progression of events all too well. But while that is the frame and backdrop in this compelling read – it is Cromwell’s intense presence throughout that had me turning the pages and mourning the fact when there were no more pages… See my review here.

Embassytown by China Miéville
Embassytown, a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. On Arieka, Humans are not the only intelligent life. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Miéville’s brilliant imagination produces a truly unusual alien species with a Language where emotion and meaning are inextricably linked, requiring human identical twins raised to be able to think and talk in tandem in order to keep the isolated human enclave, Embassytown, supplied with food and resources. Until it all goes horribly wrong… A fabulous examination of what it means to communicate. This book should be required reading for all prospective diplomats, in my opinion… See my review here.

My Outstanding Books of 2016

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Last year was an amazing year for reading. I cannot recall when I last read so many exciting, engrossing and well crafted books. Below are the ones which have left a niche in my inscape so they may not have initially got a 10/10, but nevertheless these are the ones that have stayed with me…

The Just City – Book 1 of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton

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This amazing, thought provoking series is essentially examining Plato’s ideas for an ideal society striving towards excellence as propounded in The Republic. It’s quirky, imaginative and clever – vintage Walton in other words. She has to be one of the most exciting, talented writers of our age.

 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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This is a variation of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story that is filled with mystery, magic and a strong sense of place. The isolation and brooding sense of being at the whim of someone who is perhaps not wholly stable permeates the book.

 

The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen

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This hard science fiction tale of a shape-shifter is an extraordinary book, rich with techie detail and some of the most vivid sensory writing I’ve read. In addition, the story takes you in one direction – until you suddenly realise it is about something else altogether. Clever and original, this impressive debut novel marks Geen as One to Watch.

 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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The cover of this book is lushly beautiful – which is also an accurate description of the prose spinning this story into a classic tale that wouldn’t be out of place if it turned up as one of the tales of Scheherazade. What really sold it, though, was the carnivorous horse with smart mouth…

 

The Annihilation Score – Book 6 The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

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Unlike the rest of this clever, readable series, this book is told in the viewpoint of Bob Howard’s wife, Mo. She has a bone violin as a weapon to battle the Lovecraftian monsters emerging from another dimension and threatening life on Earth as we know it. You won’t be surprised to learn that wielding such an instrument exacts a heavy cost. Stross has depicted a heartbreaking heroine who leaves a lump in my throat.

 

The House with No Rooms – Book 4 of The Detective’s Daughter series
by Lesley Thomson

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I love Thomson’s clever, layered writing that assumes her readers are capable of joining the dots and her leisurely pacing that steadily builds a creeping sense of wrongness. Stella’s quirky world view prevails and in amongst the tragedy and pain, there are welcome shafts of humour. I’ve dreamt about this book…

 

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

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This book, rightly, has garnered a huge amount of attention and I nearly didn’t read it because of the fuss. Which would have been a real shame, because the story is gripping, funny and painful and without an ounce of sentiment. I certainly didn’t think it would end the way it did.

 

An Accident of Stars – Book 1 of The Manifold Worlds series by Foz Meadows

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This portal fantasy gripped me from the first page and still hasn’t let go. I was completely caught up in the adventure, which quickly took me out of my comfort zone and captivated me. I still find myself wondering what I’d do if confronted with the same circumstances and hope that Meadows writes quickly, because I badly want to know what happens next.

 

The Fifth Season – Book 1 of the Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin

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I love her Inheritance series, but blogging buddy Sara Letourneau kept banging on about this one, so I got hold of it. And I’m so very glad I did… The writing is extraordinary. Jemisin takes all the rules about writing by the scruff of the neck and gives them a thorough shaking. I stayed awake to read this one, caught up with Essun’s furious grief and felt bereft once I came to the end of it.

 

Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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This clever, unsettling adventure takes the classic fantasy trope of the band of heroes and bounces it off the walls. The result is funny, creepy and poignant by turns – and absolutely engrossing. It also raises some tricky moral questions.

 

Spellbreaker – Book 3 of the Spellwright Trilogy by Blake Charlton

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This fantasy adventure vividly depicts a family where every one of them is lethally powerful such that it seriously gets in the way of their love for each other. The result is riveting and original – it has lodged itself in my brain like a burr, because if you have the power to level cities or predict your father’s death, then it’s probably going to make the inevitable family tiff somewhat tricky.

 

The Summer Goddess by Joanne Hall

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I’ve always enjoyed Hall’s writing – but this particular tale of abduction and slavery tugged at my heart from the first chapter and kept on doing so throughout. Her heroine is painfully fallible and yet doggedly courageous – and the writing is always so well crafted. It’s another one that won’t leave me in peace…

 

Songs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton

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This disturbing portal novel is about revenge and bloodshed – and how those that pay the price often are innocent. It grabbed me from the beginning as we learn about the three sisters and I read through the night to learn what befalls them – and I’m really hoping that Houghton is busy writing a sequel, for I want more of this savage, magical world.

 

A Natural History of DragonsBook 1 of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series
by Marie Brennan

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What’s not to love? A dogged, adventuring Victorian lady who defies convention to go adventuring to learn more about dragons in their habitat. The book is written after the style of a 19th century novel and enchanted me – happily there are more in the series and I’m going to be plunging back into this world just as soon as I can.

 

Just One Damned Thing After Another – Book 1 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s
by Jodi Taylor

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This time travelling novel is set in a Government-run establishment that has the same feel I imagine Bletchley would have done during WW2 – though the attrition rate is definitely higher at St Mary’s. The time-travelling historians – or ‘disaster-magnets’ as they are described in this punchy, amusing adventure – tend to die rather a lot.

So there they are – my outstanding reads of 2016. I highly recommend each and every one of them as offering something special and unique. And if you insist on forcing me to choose only one of them, then you’re a cruel, unfeeling monster – but if I HAD to, then it would have to be N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. The intensity of the writing, the cool premise and the way she builds on the characters has this one etched into my mind.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – September Roundup

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This is the month where the summer break finishes and I resume my teaching at moonNorthbrook College and with Tim. It was also busy as I had a long week-end away at my mother’s where we caught up and enjoyed a bit of retail therapy then at the end of the month, J and I travelled up to Scarborough to Fantasycon 2016.

• While I, inevitably didn’t read so many books during September, completing thesummergoddessonly nine, the lack of quantity was more than made up for by the quality. Another joyous month with a slew of wonderful reads. I loved E.D.E. Bell’s The Fettered Flame – her worlds are intriguing and post pertinent questions about what happens to those who aspire to step outside the norms of society. Crosstalk by Connie Willis was huge fun with a serious message under all the mayhem, necessitywhile Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger piratical space opera tale was engrossing. But my standout reads this month were Joanne Hall’s The Summer Goddess and the final book in Jo Walton’s amazing Thessaly Trilogy, Necessity.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. I nailed this challenge last month, but am pleased the Netgalley arcs I’ve requested continue to delight. I was also delighted to have a line from one of my reviews appear on the paperback edition of Lesley Thomson’s best-selling novel The House With no Rooms. And last week, Netgalley have informed me I have reviewed 80% of the arcs I’ve requested.

• I have continued to submit my work. Hopefully, my main rewriting project, of the summer is on the final lap – I started editing Netted in the last week of September and should have it ready to resubmit by the end of this week. I also received detailed, very helpful feedback on Miranda’s Tempest. I can now see how to improve it, so will be starting on a major rewrite of that manuscript as soon as I have the time.
Challenge – To continue to submit my work.

I had hoped to have made a start on Bloodless – that was in the plan I made at the start of the year, anyhow. However, I hadn’t factored in the major rewrite of Netted or major surgery on Miranda’s Tempest. While rewrites don’t take up quite the amount of time and effort of a first draft, I certainly cannot consider writing one book and editing another – I wish I could, but I’m too much of a mono-tasker, sadly.

I wrote just over 10,000 words on my blog in September and more than 15,000 words on my course notes and teaching admin, so my monthly wordcount came to just over 25,000. This brings my total for the year so far to just under 227,000 words. Have you had any schedules or plans for reading, writing or blogging this year go peelie-wally?

Sunday Post – 5th June

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

As it’s been half term, I have had a break from my teaching commitments, so have managed to motor ahead to complete editing the third draft of Breathing Space. We had the grandchildren staying over last Sunday and Monday, which was lovely as ever – and the puppy that my daughter is fostering also came for a sleepover. Unfortunately, she spent her time in the garden digging up the cats’ poo and eating it, which gave her an upset tummy – a real shame, as otherwise she is a poppet.

littlehamptonlibraryOn Wednesday evening, I attended a murder mystery evening at Littlehampton library, as part of their 110th anniversary celebrations – making them the oldest free library in West Sussex. The murder had been designed by Ann Cleves and was thoroughly entertaining, despite the fact that I was hopelessly wrong in guessing whodunit.

 

 

davidconstanstineOn Friday evening, as part of the Worthing World of Words 2016 literary festival, I attended a poetry reading by David Jenny FeldmanConstantine and Jenny Feldman. It was brilliant – both these poets were inspirational – I particularly loved David’s poem ‘Rec’ and Jenny’s poem ‘Swifts’. They also talked about their work, what inspires them and their writing process. I came away buzzing.

Yesterday, I attended three more brilliant talks as part of the Worthing WOW Festival – the first one was by my writing buddy and professional editor, Sarah Palmer who gave a workshop on how to write a synopsis. She gave us a step by step ‘how to’ guide and even more importantly, an example of a synopsis. As I’d rather write ten novels than one of these beasts, I found it really helpful.

The second talk was on social media for writers, where Nichola Smalley, who is the publicist for the literary publishing company And Other Stories, explained the different forms of social media and how writers could use them. Her best advice was to concentrate on the platform that we feel most comfortable using and to enjoy ourselves.

Literary agent Victoria Salter gave a fascinating talk on how she saw the state of the UK publishing industry, given the major changes she has seen in her nine years as an agent. This was a really interesting insight in what an insider felt about some of the seismic changes that have convulsed the industry.

I’ve had a really sociable, enjoyable week, in addition to reading four books, which are:

dangerousjourneyDangerous Journey – Book 3 of Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton
During his stay last Bank Holiday weekend, Oscar was very keen to finish this story, so we curled up on the sofa together during a chilly afternoon and joined Phillip, Baby B and Nick on their battle against the Prince of Darkness. Once more, a tension-filled, enjoyable adventure that held Oscar’s attention until the end.

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The House with No Rooms – Book 4 of The Detective Daughter’s series by Lesley Thomson
When I attended the launch party for this book the previous week, of course I scooped it up – and got my copy signed. So I immediately dived into it as a treat – and loved it. Lesley writes with great perception and intelligence in this unusual whodunit.

 

lastcallatthenightshadeloungeLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
This intriguing urban fantasy deals with the life and doings of Chicago bartenders, who battle evil flesh-eating demons by using cocktails – and these recipes are set out in The Devil’s Water Dictionary. This is great fun, with an intriguing, fresh twist on the urban fantasy trope, and an appealing protagonist, Bailey Chen. My review will be posted on the blog during the coming week.

 

Cursed – Book 2 of The Soulseer’s Chronicles by Sue TingeyCursed
I read and enjoyed the first book in the series, Marked, so when Sue contacted me and asked me if I’d like to read the second book, I immediately agreed. It’s great fun, with plenty of pace and chockful of surprises as half-daemon Lucky de Salle begins to discover what she is capable of. My review will be appearing on Brainfluff during the week.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 29th May

Review of Change of Life – Book 2 of A Menopausal Superhero series by Samantha Bryant

Teaser Tuesday – Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen

My 1,000th Post – Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – May Roundup

Friday Faceoff – In the Beginning There Was Nothing, Which Exploded featuring Hilldiggers – Book 2 of the Polity series by Neal Asher

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The House With No Rooms – Book 4 of The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week:

Joanna Maciejewska’s great piece of short fiction – Miye’s In http://melfka.com/read-online/miyes-in … A fabulous short story…

Self published thriller writer Seumas Gallacher generously shared his findings, when he tried a selection of a number of book-marketing websites aimed at the indie market.
…Authors–caveat emptor re book-selling websites–the final report makes for sorry reading… https://seumasgallacher.com/2016/05/31/authors-caveat-emptor-re-book-selling-websites-the-final-report-makes-for-sorry-reading/ … via @seumasgallacher

A tempting offer, if you’re looking for a quality read at a VERY reasonable price from one of the best indie writers I know.
Flaming June? Curl up under the blankets & read! …https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/flaming-june-curl-up-under-the-blankets-read/ … via @guineapig66 Great value for a great book!

A really enjoyable quiz.
What Is Your Spirit Animal? https://www.buzzfeed.com/egeen/what-is-your-spirit-animal-2c0p3 … via @buzzfeeders This is fun:))

And this is also a hoot…
Eleanor Roosevelt says: | The Müscleheaded Blog https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/eleanor-roosevelt-says-the-muscleheaded-blog/ … via @jeanreinhardt1 This made me howl with laughter…

As you can see, it’s been a busy week – again. And a momentous one, given that I’m now a millennium blogger, so here’s to the next thousand posts! Many thanks to all of you who take the trouble to visit and comment, it’s always appreciated. I’m now hoping that the weather will stop sulking in the foothills of April and finally give us a June worth the name, as I’m fed up with wearing jumpers and thick coats. Have a great blogging and reading week, everyone.

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The House With No Rooms – Book 4 of The Detective’s Daughter series by Lesley Thomson

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The summer of 1976 was the hottest in living memory. In the Botanical Gardens at Kew, a lost little girl, dizzied by the heat, thought she saw a woman lying dead on the ground. But when she opened her eyes, the woman had gone. Forty years later, Stella thehousewithnorooms1Darnell, the detective’s daughter, is investigating a chilling new case. What she uncovers will draw her into the obsessive world of botany, and towards an unsolved murder that has lain dormant for decades…

If you are looking for foot-to-the-floor, non-stop action – this isn’t it. Thomson takes her time in her slow-burn style, as we follow Stella and Jack in their daily routines. Stella runs the Clean Start cleaning company and Jack, who also drives an underground train, works part-time for her. They are linked by painful events in their past, which you can fully find out about by reading the first book in the series, The Detective’s Daughter – see my review here. While that will give you a deeper insight into what damaged them, Thomson is too accomplished to leave her readers adrift, so if you want to immerse yourself in this adventure then go for it. While this may all sound a bit grim, there are regular moments of humour throughout that leaven this story, as the vivid cast of characters bounce off the page.

The past and present is braided together, as an undiscovered murder committed decades ago continues to wreak havoc upon those caught in its malign web. We have a ringside seat as a young girl sees something beyond her comprehension and struggles to find an answer that makes it bearable for her to cope. Until as an adult, a similarly unexpected, horrific event forces her to face up to what happened all those years ago.

Thomson evokes the stifling heat of the summer of 1976 – those of us who lived through that year recall it vividly as day after day, the heatwave continued to swelter throughout June, July and August. Thomson’s world seeps into my head as her richly depicted world and layered, complex characters continue to spool through my inscape long after I’ve finally closed the book, as the psychological truth behind her characters’ actions reverberates through the plot. I enjoy the main protagonists, particularly Stella – but the real hero of this book is Stella’s father, who died in 2010. One way and another, most of the main characters are connected with the driven, workaholic detective Terry Darnell. This beautifully crafted, thoughtful murder mystery is all about assumptions and mistakes we make as we are busy doing and thinking about something else – and what the cost can be when we get it so wrong. The denouement is both shocking and satisfying, pulling together all the strands of a storyline that stretches back to the 1950s, while also revealing more about the main characters.

All in all, this is yet another unsettling, accomplished book by a writer at the top of her game and is highly recommended.
10/10

Sunday Post – 29th May

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written. ‘It’s been another really busy week’ is becoming rather an ongoing theme…

Robbie travelled down late Sunday night after a stint on the river as he had an audition tape that needed filming on Monday. It took most of the day, but we managed to have it completed with him travelling back to Cambridge before I had to leave for Northbrook to teach my Monday evening class.

IMG_0153On Tuesday evening, Sarah Palmer drove us to The Kew Bookshop to attend the launch party for Lesley Thomson’s latest book The House With No Room, which is set at Kew Gardens. This is the latest book in Lesley’s successful crime series The Detective’s IMG_0151Daughter and if you enjoy reading well written crime with interesting spiky characters and a steady build-up, then track it down – ideally, I suggest you start with The Detective’s Daughter – see my review here.

It’s been a good teaching week, all the sessions went off well – particularly Tim’s lesson. It is such a relief that we now have a solid plan in place regarding his exam goals for the next year.

I’ve enjoyed my reading this week, although I only completed two books. However they were both very enjoyable and utterly different. They were:

theobsessionThe Obsession by Nora Roberts
I had only read one other book by this very prolific author, but have seen a lot of enthusiasm for this latest offering on the book blogs I follow, so when I saw it on the library shelves, I scooped it up. I have written a review, which will be posted in due course.

 

Change of Life – Book 2 of A Menopausal Superhero series by Samantha Bryantchangeoflife
When I saw the cover and read the blurb of this offering on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist it. I had assumed it would be a knockabout farce, but in actually fact it is a straight superhero adventure, solidly embedded in the sub-genre – featuring women of a certain age instead of the fit young things we are used to seeing flitting about the skies and tossing cars around. I really enjoyed it and will be posting my review of it shortly.

I managed to continue editing Breathing Space and during the week, my writing group also helped me fillet and gut my blurbs for all three books in The Sunblinded Trilogy, so they are suitably punchy. Now that I’ve half term week ahead of me with no teaching obligations or related admin to deal with, I’m hoping to have completed the third draft of Breathing Space by this time next week.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 22nd May

Teaser Tuesday – Change of Life – Book 2 of A Menopausal Superhero series by Samantha Bryant

Review of Plantfall by Emma Newman

Review of The Witches Revenge – Book 2 of the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton

Friday Faceoff – Renewed Shall Be The Blade That Was Broken featuring The Fell Sword – Book 2 of The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron

Five SFF That Made Me Laugh – Part 1

Other interesting/outstanding blogs that have caught my attention during the last week:

Discussion: Realism in Books – Characters. Metaphors and Moonlight. A fascinating discussion about just how irritatingly plausible we want our main protagonists to be by Kristen Burns.

Markets for Your Fiction – how to locate them. A comparative analysis by The Earthian Hivemind. Stephen has produced a very handy guide if you have speculative fiction to submit.

On Losing Faith. Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking. Viv Tufnell’s searingly honest account of her current despair.

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Spotlight on David McCall Johnston. Science Fiction Ruminations. Joachim Boaz regularly features the amazing covers produced during the last century for science fiction books – but these are exceptional.

If you are also enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend, fingers crossed it stays fine… In the meantime, thank you for taking the time to visit and chat – I always appreciate it and hope you have a great reading and blogging week.

The Spring Book Tag

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Daffodils @ Highdown (6)

I discovered this very appropriate tag, while reading Lizzie Baldwins’s fabulous My Little Book Blog and she came across it at The Reader and the Chef. So this my response…

 

1. What’s your Spring TBR?planetfall
Emma Newman’s Planetfall – I bought it in the depths of winter when thoroughly fed up and now green shoots are shooting and I’ve completed all the admin for my latest Creative Writing course, I reckon I deserve a treat.

 

Everyheartadoorway2. If someone asked you for a Spring release recommendation, what would it be?
I’ve read some cracking books this year, but one of the books published at the beginning of April is the novella Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire. I loved the pitch perfect pacing and the wonderful poignant tone of this story.

 

3. Which two books are you eagerly awaiting that releases within the next two centralstationmonths?
I have on my Kindle the arc of Central Station by Lavie Tidhar which looks fabulous (thank you NetGalley!) and I’m really excited about reading this one. And the other book I’m dying to get my hands on is Lesley Thomson’s latest crime thriller The House With No Rooms – and the bonus – I’ve been invited to the book launch up in London!

 

fuzzy nation4. Which character would make a great Easter bunny?
The fuzzy from John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation would make a fantastic Easter bunny. Apart from looking cute and enjoying interacting with friendly humans, the fuzzys are also smart, so would be good at hiding the Easter eggs.

 

 

5. What book makes you think of Spring?astra
The book that brings Spring to mind is Astra by Naomi Foyle – the book starts during springtime and young Astra is very in tune with her surroundings – as well as that, the beautiful green cover and the apparently cosy surroundings all seem very fresh and friendly…

thephilosopherkings6. Name a cover with flowers on it
My book cover with flowers on is The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton. It’s the second book in her  Thessaly series, which explores the ideas that Plato expounded in The Republic, at the behest of Apollo, who is part of this experiment, and his sister Athene, who devised it. Yes… I know. It sounds barmy – but it really works and is a remarkable series. The cover also is a beautiful spring green colour, which adds to the seasonal feel.

7. Which two characters would you go on an Easter egg hunt with?
Chocolate often gives me migraines, so Easter is a tricky time for me. I’m mostly very good at not eating it, but it would be handy to have a couple of folks who would be both really good at finding the eggs before me and possessing a huge appetite for chocolate. I reckon Harry Potter and Ron Weasley would fit the bill nicely.

8. What is your favourite Spring bookish activity to do?
Curl up on a sofa in a pool of sunshine and read in front of the fire – it’s still far too cold to venture outside to read. I also regularly tell myself I’ll tidy up the sprawling TBR mass of books by my bed and put them into some kind of order, but I probably won’t get around to it just yet. So I’ll continue working up to it, while curled up reading in front of said fire…

9. Which book did you enjoy that had a Spring cover?daughterofsmokeandbone
Well… there’s this fantastic cover of Laini Taylor’s first book in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. With feathers that represent the Easter chick… And if you’re unconvinced, can I just mention that books featuring space and fantastic world generally aren’t portrayed in vibrant spring colours, or heaving with flowers. I happen to LOVE this cover, it makes me want to stroke it and coo… And the book is awesome, so I stand by my choice.

10. Who is your favourite contemporary author?
There are some amazing writers, whose skill I admire – C.J. Cherryh is right up there, as is Lois McMaster Bujold and then there is the mighty talent that is Jo Walton, who takes on a completely different aspect of speculative fiction with each new series. And absolutely nails it with something extraordinary and special. Yep. It would have to be Jo Walton…